The Mike Nichols-directed revival of Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman will recoup its $3.1 million capitalization this week. The limited run play, a staggeringly good production of one of the great American plays, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Andrew Garfield and Linda Emond. It’s up for seven Tony Awards.
Just as it did last year, the 2011 Toronto Film Festival has gotten off to a slow start on the acquisitions front. I spoke with many buyers after last night’s onslaught of acquisition title premieres, and the common feeling was these distributors need to fill slots in their schedules and they want to fall in love, but haven’t quite gotten there yet with most of these films. They had some reservations on just about all of the films they saw. These films will clearly find distribution homes, but the reaction means that deals will drag out because those distributors aren’t going to be posting large minimum guarantees, the way they did in Cannes.
Even the big sale of the festival so far, the Steve McQueen-directed NC-17 sex drama Shame, wasn’t a huge commitment for all the press hoopla that followed Deadline’s reveal that the film had sold to Fox Searchlight. I am hearing the deal was a mid-six figure minimum guarantee around $400,000, and a P&A commitment around $1.5 million. That sounds about right, because the filmmakers were most concerned with entering this year’s Oscar race to capitalize on the performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, and ensuring that not a frame of the picture was changed. But it doesn’t sound like a wide release picture.
As for the wide release titles, they are going to sell, but it will be a struggle for sellers to get the dollars they want. I saw one of those titles that sit atop buyer lists last night. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was scripted by Simon Beaufoy, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The film is sophisticated, funny, timely and utterly charming, and I would be surprised if it isn’t snapped up by Monday or sooner. That film got the best reaction from the buyers I spoke with. The pace of auctioning has been complicated by the volume of premieres last night, including Rampart, Take This Waltz, The Oranges, the hockey comedy Goon and the Morgan Spurlock-directed documentary Comic-Con: A Fan’s Hope. Buyers had to make choices, and some were seeing films like Salmon this morning. I expect a flurry of deals toward the end of the festival, which is how it played out last year.
Since there’s little going on so far, you have time to notice things. Here are a few things I’ve noticed:
EXCLUSIVE: Next spring, there will be two Spider-Mans on Broadway. When Mike Nichols directs Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play revival of Death of a Salesman, The Amazing Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield will be making his Broadway debut. Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman will play the traveling salesman Willy Loman; Linda Emond will play his wife, Linda; and Garfield will play Loman’s underachieving son, Biff. Scott Rudin will produce the revival, which will open next March at the Barrymore Theatre. The other stage Spidey, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, you know all about.
The original play opened in 1949 with Lee J. Cobb in the role of Loman, and subsequent revivals featured Dustin Hoffman and Brian Dennehy. Hoffman had been expected to take the Loman role, but the surprise is Garfield. He worked with Rudin in the David Fincher-directed The Social Network, before emerging in a wide search with the role of young Peter Parker in the 3D reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, which is being directed by Marc Webb. Garfield started his career in the theater in the UK. His stage credits there include The Laramie Project and Romeo & Juliet.
Sony Pictures has released a new and pretty intense trailer for The Ides of March, the George Clooney-directed thriller about cutthroat presidential politics that originated in Beau Willimon’s play. Clooney stars with Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti. The film was just named to open the 2011 …
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company has won a quiet but fevered bidding battle for worldwide distribution rights to the untitled next film by Paul Thomas Anderson. The film begins production June 13, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix so far set to star. Megan Ellison is financing. It is Anderson’s first trip behind the camera since There Will Be Blood.
Hoffman and Phoenix are locked. As for the actresses, I’m told that Anderson is eyeing such women as Madisen Beaty (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) for a role, with Amy Adams, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo‘s Lena Endre and Laura Dern also mentioned as actresses Anderson is interested in. The auction was held at CAA headquarters late last week, with Fox Searchlight also squarely in the mix.
This is the project that Anderson has worked on for a long time, once under the title The Master. He has greatly overhauled the script and now, Hoffman stars as a man who returns after witnessing the horrors of WWII and tries to rediscover who he is in post-war America. He creates a belief system, something that catches on with other lost souls. The film is fully financed by Ellison’s Annapurna banner. At a time when the implosion of the indie film marketplace made pricey auteur films so hard to finance, Ellison has emerged as something of a godsend to the small group of auteurs she is working with. She’s enabled Anderson to make the movie at or near the $35 million budget the film was going to cost back when Universal stepped away.